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Tech Front: Li-ion Battery Tech Leads to Hydrogen Production

Edited by Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


Developers of electric cars that used lithium-ion batteries are racing the champions of hydrogen-fueled vehicles to see which will succeed the greenhouse gas-producing gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. They’ve been racing in different directions—until now: Scientists at Stanford University have created a low-voltage, low-cost “water splitter” that uses a single catalyst to continuously produce both hydrogen and oxygen from water. Full Article

IBISWorld: Decline in US Manufacturing Has Been Relative

Press Release - IBISWorld


The demise of American manufacturing has become a familiar headline. Technological change, deregulation, outsourcing and increasingly competitive foreign producers all continue to do their part in hollowing out the US industrial base. For instance, over the 10-year period to 2015, manufacturing’s share of the US economy (as measured by value added*) is expected to fall from 10.7% to 8.1%. Similarly, US manufacturing employment is anticipated to fall 15.6% over the same period. Full Article

Shops Migrate to Higher Value Parts Making

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Following the money trail is a police-drama honored way of sorting out the usual suspects in solving a crime. Keeping an eye on the money is also a good strategy for shops looking to remain competitive, as well as a bigger payday. Today, adopting five-axis machine technology is a tried and true method of producing more complex workpieces with higher value in both the raw and the machined states. Full Article

Tech Front: Big Fuel Cell Breakthrough is at the Nano Level

Edited by Advanced Manufacturing Media Staff


A development in the real-time observation of fuel cell catalyst degradation could be the breakthrough that leads to the creation of more efficient and durable fuel cell stacks. Toyota Motor Corp. (Toyota City, Japan) and the the Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC; Nagoya, Japan) have developed a new technique that allows monitoring of the behavior of nanometer-sized particles of platinum during chemical reactions in fuel cells. This allows the processes leading to reduced catalytic reactivity to be observed. Full Article

24M Introduces the Semisolid Lithium-Ion Battery

Press Release: 24M


24M (Cambridge, MA) has emerged from stealth mode to introduce the semisolid lithium-ion cell, a revolutionary technology that solves the grand challenge of energy storage by enabling a new, cost-effective class of the lithium-ion battery. 24M’s semisolid lithium-ion is the most significant advancement in lithium-ion technology in more than two decades and combines an overhaul in battery cell design with a series of manufacturing innovations that, when fully implemented, will slash today’s lithium-ion costs by 50% and improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries. Full Article

Oil Well Drilling Equipment Manufacturing Challenges Still Await

James Crompton, Analyst, IBISWorld


Recent declines in oil prices have dramatically impacted industries of many types, and oil drilling equipment manufacturers must be particularly attentive to recent market conditions. As oil companies curtail spending on production, demand for oil drilling equipment is anticipated to undergo a period of weakness. Revenue in the Oil Drilling Equipment Manufacturing industry is projected to decline by 14% in 2015, and this decline can be attributed to the steep decline in oil prices in late 2014. Full Article

Loss of Tax Credits Takes the Wind from Turbines’ Sales

Lucas Isakowitz, Analyst, IBISWorld


The Wind Turbine Manufacturing industry manufactures wind turbine blades, towers, generators and other related components. The industry’s performance is driven largely by investment tax credits and other government incentives that encourage energy producers to establish wind farms on US soil. Federal tax credits can make wind power cost competitive compared with other energy-generation technologies, which translates to higher demand and revenue for the industry. Full Article

Repair and Improvement All in One Process

Edited by Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


A repair process based on additive manufacturing opens new opportunities for industrial gas turbine maintenance cost reduction. Full Article

Oil Well Drilling Equipment Manufacturing Challenges Still Await

James Crompton, Analyst, IBISWorld


Recent declines in oil prices have dramatically impacted industries of many types, and oil drilling equipment manufacturers must be particularly attentive to recent market conditions. As oil companies curtail spending on production, demand for oil drilling equipment is anticipated to undergo a period of weakness. Full Article

Shedding Light on Solar System Installation

Marios Lambi, BASF Performance Materials


It’s no secret that the process of converting metal to plastic brings many benefits such as greater design freedom, part consolidation and mass reductions. But for many, this replacement of materials brings doubt. Specifically, there's a misconception that a plastic material's performance cannot easily be predicted like that of steel of aluminum. At BASF, we are virtually eliminating those fears by introducing Ultrasim, a predictive technology tool, into the product development of parts molded using BASF materials. Full Article

Oil Prices: Sneaky Peak

Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


Not too many people seem to be paying a lot of attention, but the price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI) has crept up by almost one-third since it hit a low of about $45 per barrel in March. Brent, the other benchmark crude, has seen a similar climb. As this is written it is hovering at around $65 a barrel while WTI is in the neighborhood of $58 a barrel after hitting $61 a few days before.

Full Article

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International Corporation Begins Operation in Texas

Press Release - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International Corp.


HOUSTON, TEXAS April 23, 2015 - Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor International Corporation (MCO-I) has begun operation in the U.S. at its facility in Pearland, Texas, outside Houston. The complex, also known as Pearland Works, currently handles packaging, shipping, storage, service and maintenance of compressors and mechanical drive steam turbines. Full Article

Changes to Bosch Rexroth Management in the USA and the Americas

Press Release - Bosch Rexroth


Charlotte, NC – Effective July 1, 2015, Paul Cooke has been appointed Regional President Americas and President & CEO of Bosch Rexroth Corporation US. Cooke will continue as Senior Vice President Sales within the Business Unit Industrial Applications at the headquarters in Lohr, Germany, until the end of June 2015. Berend Bracht, who is currently Regional President Americas and President & CEO of Bosch Rexroth Corporation US, is resigning from the organization for personal reasons after 25 years with Bosch. Full Article

US Leads in Petro Production But Needs Refinery Capacity

Linda Doman and Mike Ford US Energy Information Administration


The US remained the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons in 2014, according to US Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates. US hydrocarbon production continues to exceed that of both Russia and Saudi Arabia, the second- and third-largest producers, respectively. For the US and Russia, total hydrocarbon production, in energy content terms, is almost evenly split between petroleum and natural gas. Saudi Arabia’s production heavily favors petroleum. Full Article

A Common Platform Benefits Complex Operations

Edited by Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


Voith Hydro (York, PA) is a major manufacturer of hydroelectric power generation equipment, especially the intricate turbines used in such operations, supplying hydroelectric generating companies and municipalities throughout North America. More than 12,000 units have been commissioned in the field, with more than 65,000 MW of installed capacity. In addition, Voith Hydro has upgraded more than 600 existing power generation units. Full Article

Energy--Do More With Less

Senior Editor Ellen Kehoe


There's a lot of energy stored in the 16,000-document collection of SME Technical Papers. Really-plug in keywords related to energy (e.g., oil, gas, carbon, emissions, solar, wind, green, sustainable) and you'll see the evolution of topics and surges of interest during certain time periods, such as many papers on energy conservation and management from the oil-crisis years of the early-to-mid 1970s. Full Article

ISM: Manufacturing Economic Activity Slowed in March

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


Economic growth slowed again in March, spurred by a hangover from the concluded West Coast port slowdown, a strong dollar holding back exports and lower oil prices adversely affecting some industries, according to a monthly report by the Institute for Supply Management. The Tempe, AZ-based institute’s PMI was 51.5% for March, down from 52.9% in February. An index figure of 50% or above shows that economic activity in manufacturing is growing, below that level indicates a contraction. Full Article

HOUSTEX 2015: The Only Things Bigger Than Energy Industry Tools Are Ideas

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


When you’re in the energy hub that is Houston, there is no escaping awareness of the price of oil. There really hasn’t been a break since late last summer when oil prices began to plunge. To the optimistic, higher oil prices that the industry needs won’t likely happen until yearend. Big ideas at the 2015 edition of Houstex matched the big machine tool technology needed to maintain the role of the US as a global leader in oil & gas production. Full Article

Collaboration and the Cloud: News from ABB Automation and Power World 2015

Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson


ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer announced today that ABB (Zurich, Switzerland) will partner with mobile telecommunications manufacturer Ericsson (Kista, Sweden) to release a cloud data center management platform. The announcement was part of Spiesshofer’s keynote address to the ABB Automation and Power World event in Houston, TX, which runs through March 5. Full Article

Is Additive the New Twist that Electric Motors Need?

Contributing Editor Ed Sinkora


To many, powering cars and trucks with internal combustion engines is hopelessly outdated. The technology goes back to the 19th century. It relies on a finite source of fossil fuels. And it contributes to global warming. So beyond attempts to make such engines more efficient and the vehicles lighter, there’s also a huge push to produce vehicles with electric or hybrid forms of propulsion. Full Article

Shop Solutions: HMC's Precision Puts Clamps on Leaky Pipelines

Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


PLIDCO-The Pipe Line Development Co. (Westlake, OH), founded in 1949 by Joseph B. and Berneice K. Smith, manufactures high-pressure pipeline repair and maintenance fittings for onshore and offshore applications for the global gas, oil, water, chemical, steam, and slurry industries. Full Article

Keeping Your Cool in Order To Keep Costs Down

Edited by Executive Editor James D. Sawyer with information from Walter USA LLC.


The machining of blades for steam and gas turbines has long been a difficult, demanding, and costly operation. In recent years this situation has begun to change. On the one hand, advances in machine tool technology and data processing have brought improvements to the process. However, the industry’s increasing use of high-temperature superalloys and difficult-to-machine materials is bringing a new set of complications and costs to this area of the power generation industry. Full Article

NAM Chief Calls for Lower Corporate Taxes, Less Regulation

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


The head of the National Manufacturers Association called for reduced corporate taxes, lessened regulations on manufacturers and an “all of the above” energy policy.“That menu is long,” Jay Timmons, the group’s president, said during a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. The United States has a top corporate tax rate of 35%. Full Article

Tech Front: New Nanoscale Compounds for Better CNG Storage

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at Rice University (Houston) have published a new study on nanoscale materials composed of metal organic frameworks (MOF) that could be used to devise more practical storage systems used with compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. Today’s CNG-powered buses and trucks typically use very bulky tanks that store natural gas at very high pressure. Full Article

UpFront: Fill Up Your Tank--and Find a New Playbook

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


A few years back, the US Energy Information Administration predicted that the US would achieve energy self-sufficiency in two decades. Thanks largely to fracking, the US was on its way to becoming the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons. If only that game-changing prediction came with a new playbook. Full Article

Shop Solutions: Dynamic Solution for Small Oil-Parts Production

Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Shamrock Precision Inc. (Farmers Branch, TX) makes a specialty of manufacturing small precision parts—typically 2–9" (51–229-mm) long for downhole oil well applications.The company has gained a solid reputation for manufacturing reliable products that are designed to break and release electromechanical equipment into action once a specific amount of force is exerted on them. Full Article

Oil Patch Risks and Rewards

Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


Two of the key drivers of the oil & gas industry are demand and gears. Demand travels in essentially two directions: up and down. If you ignore the obvious—that gears go around—in the oil & gas industry as in almost all manufacturing, gears only go in one direction: They get better, i.e., stronger and more reliable. And stronger, more reliable gears are extremely important because downtime is extremely expensive in the oil patch. Full Article

Workholding Innovations Proliferate for the Oil Patch

Senior Editor Patrick Waurzyniak


Demand for oil-field components, and the machines that produce them, has been humming along nicely for the past few years. With strong growth in natural-gas hydrofracking and shale-oil production, manufacturers that build oil-field pipeline gear have turned to the latest advanced manufacturing equipment that includes multitasking machines (MTM) for milling and turning applications requiring state-of-the-art, modular workholding to handle workpieces used in oil-country applications. Full Article

Advanced Technologies for Machining Oil-Field Parts

Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Despite falling oil prices, the investment valve in the oil and gas industry remains on—for now—as manufacturers continue their race to provide large, precision parts for fracking, subsea drilling and other related activities. But as anybody in the energy sector knows: this is the land of boom or bust. So when the going is good, the industry can’t source pumps, drill bits and drilling equipment, tubular stock, and valves fast enough. Full Article

Tesla CEO: Battery Plant Will Succeed, More Vehicle Factories Likely

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


Tesla Motors Inc.’s planned “gigafactory” in Nevada will succeed in cutting the cost of making batteries and the maker of electric cars is likely to add more vehicle-assembly plants in the long run, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk said in Detroit on Jan. 13.Musk was asked at the Automotive News World Congress whether the battery operation will reduce battery prices by 30%. Full Article

Low Oil Prices Challenge US Manufacturers

Editor in Chief Sarah A. Webster


A few years back, the US Energy Information Administration predicted that the US would achieve energy self-sufficiency in two decades. Thanks largely to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the US was fast on its way to becoming the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons. If only that game-changing prediction came with a playbook. Full Article

GE’s UNIK 5000 Pressure Sensing Platform Now Carries INMETRO and NEPSI Intrinsic Safety Certifications

Press Release - GE


The UNIK 5000 pressure sensing platform from the Druck product line of GE Measurement & Control now carries the Brazilian INMETRO and the Chinese NEPSI Intrinsic Safety certifications. As a result, UNIK 5000 pressure sensors can now be used throughout these countries in hazardous zone applications in the oil and gas and process industries, as well as in power generation and mining. Full Article

Tech Front: New Conductive Polymer Nanocomposites Hold Promise for Portable Devices

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


Researchers at Drexel University (Philadelphia) have developed a strong, flexible, electrically conductive nanocomposite material that could be used to power future wearable energy storage devices. The conductive MXene-polymer nanocomposite material, created by researchers in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering in collaboration with scientists at Dalian University of Technology in China, is very flexible yet has the strength to support many times its own weight. Full Article

Tech Front: Hybrid Semiconductor Phosphors Emerge for Low-Cost LED Lighting

Edited by Senior Editors Patrick Waurzyniak and Ellen Kehoe


A team of researchers at Rutgers University (Piscataway, NJ) have designed new materials that could change the way household light bulbs are manufactured. With the phase-out of traditional incandescent light bulbs in the US and other countries, lighting manufacturers have looked for more energy-efficient lighting alternatives in the form of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Full Article

Fed Says Industrial Production Fell in October

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


US industrial production slid 0.1% in October, dragged down by decreases in automotive and paper products, the Federal Reserve said in a statement. The decline follows a 0.8% rise in September. The Fed defines the industrial sector as manufacturing, mining and electric and gas utilities. Full Article

Seeking a Good Rate of No Returns

Edited by Yearbook Editor James D. Sawyer from material provided by Qualmark.


Faced with uncertain profit margins in an even more uncertain economy, the leaders of manufacturing enterprises find themselves scrutinizing every aspect of their business model to find ways to shave costs. Profitability targets are moving targets, while geopolitical concerns that pose the threat of creating economic trouble loom.
Full Article

Weld Inspection Keeps Energy Flowing and America Safe

Ivan Winkler, Certified Welding Instuctor, TÜV Rheinland


When most people look up at a towering wind turbine, read about fracking in the Bakken region, or discuss construction of a nuclear plant, the last thing they think about is welds. Yet, safe welds are one of the most important elements keeping oil, gas or power flowing to their destinations. Given that I am a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), welds are pretty much all I think about during work hours. Full Article

GM Chief Announces Michigan Volt Investment

Senior Editor Bill Koenig


General Motors Co. will produce the electric drive unit for the next-generation Chevrolet Volt at the company’s transmission plant in Warren, MI, Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said at the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday.The electric drive for the current generation of the Volt has been produced in Mexico. Full Article

A Kilowatt is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Glenn Nausley, President, PromessInc.


It is no coincidence that hydraulics became the default technology for pressing applications during the century of cheap energy. Well, that century is over and today’s reality is very different. It is highly unlikely we will ever see energy that cheap again, which means, among other things, that it’s time to rethink the way we use electricity to generate kinetic energy in a broad range of pressing applications. Full Article

Set Yourself Up for Success in Oil and Gas

J.R. Quiles, Heavy Industry Program Manager, FANUC America


J.R. Quiles, Heavy Industry Program Manager, FANUC America

The outlook for the oil & gas industry appears to be very positive for 2014 and 2015, which is good news since it is one of the world’s largest industries. As high accuracy and tight tolerances are required on machined parts, revenues in this industry tend to be invested in new technology to increase production and improve product quality. All markets in manufacturing have been affected by the lack of skilled workers and oil & gas is no different. Products and technology that help less experienced workers increase part accuracy and productivity will help offset this situation. Full Article

Wisdom Grows as Waste Shrinks

James D. Sawyer, Executive Editor


Waste not, want not. Or as R. Buckminster Fuller noted, “Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value.” We are getting wiser in this regard, especially in terms of turning waste into energy in the manufacturing sector. Full Article

Pipe Dream Comes True

Edited by Yearbook Editor James D. Sawyer from information supplied by Seco Tools LLC


Most consider threading a simple secondary turning operation, but nothing could be further from the truth at Borusan Mannesmann Pipe US Inc. (Baytown, TX). This industry-leading steel pipe manufacturer produces more than 300,000 tons (272,160 t) of pipe per year, and each piece—some greater than 13" (330 mm) in diameter and 40' (12.2-m) long—needs to be threaded at both ends. Full Article

Training Tomorrow’s Energy Engineers

John Smegal


The Energy Department’s Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) program is a workforce development initiative aimed at creating the next generation of energy engineers. IAC graduates possess a unique mixture of engineering and energy management expertise, combined with hands-on experience obtained by working directly with small- and medium-size manufacturing facilities across the country. The federal government has been supporting the IAC program—formerly known as the Energy Analysis and Diagnostic Centers—since 1976. Although initially housed within the US Department of Commerce, the program was transferred to the US Department of Energy in 1980. Full Article

Batteries Up!

Steve Bryan


While still not quite ready for the major leagues, using batteries for grid storage is establishing a solid base. Full Article

Rays of Hope, Clouds of Doubt

Bruce Morey


The nuclear power industry shows signs of recovery, but risks of many kinds are scattered across the path to the future. Full Article

Shop Solutions: Safe, Productive Fume Extraction Technology

Edited by Senior Editor Jim Lorincz


Vermeer Corp., a family-owned and operated company was founded in Pella, IA, in 1948. Vermeer provides agricultural and industrial equipment to customers in more than 60 nations for industries including biomass, landscaping, pipeline, surface mining, tree care, and utility installation. For Vermeer, building a quality product for customers starts with a foundation of well-trained, skilled employees who are valued as its most important resource. Full Article

Keeping Energy Production in High Gear

Joel Neidig, Technology Manager, ITAMCO


Worldwide demand for energy is growing. Fortunately, so too is the technology for producing energy. This is where the gear—that humble mechanical cogwheel that quietly goes about its job of rotating and delivering torque to various pieces of machinery—has an important role to play. Full Article

BIG M 2014: Why Manufacturers Ought to be Institutionalized

Michael C. Anderson Senior Editor


National Network of Manufacturing Institutes leaders answer questions at The Big M event Full Article

Transforming Necessity into Opportunity

Edited by Yearbook Editor James D. Sawyer from information supplied by CNC Software


Until the mid-’90s Precision Fluorocarbon Inc. (PFI; Tomball,TX) was a nonmetallic machining business primarily serving the energy marketplace—the oil & gas industry in particular. After a severe downturn hit the oil business, the company was faced with the problem/opportunity of translating its unique competencies into other fields.  Full Article

Making the Most of the Wind

Edited by Executive Editor James D. Sawyer


How much electricity can a turbine construction more than 328' (110-m) tall generate? How can you ensure the assembly of any wind turbine runs smoothly when there is only one chance to put it together? Vestas Nacelles (Lem, Denmark) answers those questions with a strict quality policy enabled by high-capacity portable measuring systems. Full Article

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